- Associated Press - Saturday, October 6, 2018

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - The Vermont Department of Public Service is launching an investigation into customer complaints about telephone company Consolidated Communications.

Complaints prompted by delayed resolution of service outages increased more than 2,000 percent between July and September compared to last year, the agency said, while complaints about installation delays grew 500 percent in the same period.

The public service agency’s James Porter tells WCAX-TV the number of complaints is a “serious problem.” The agency will hire outside experts to investigate, he said.

“We kind of need to dig into this and see what the real cause is,” Porter said.

Porter said the agency is more interested in seeing improvements than imposing penalties. “We want their customers to have acceptable service and that’s the most important thing,” he said.

State officials expect 70 percent of customer complaints to be fixed within 24 hours. In the first quarter of the year, Consolidated cleared only 30 percent of calls within 24 hours.

Illinois-based Consolidated, which has operations in 24 states, bought FairPoint Communications for $1.5 billion in 2017. It provides telephone and high-speed internet services.

Consolidated said in a statement that a “comprehensive plan” that’s in place to improve customer service includes “added resources” and is showing results.

“This plan, active for the past month, has been highly effective with a 40 percent reduction in the number of customers awaiting installation or repairs,” the company said.

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